Magicians gives us the answer we’ve been waiting for in “The Cock Barrens.” Let’s take a look.
We open with Quintin returning to Fillory, only to attempt a rather embarrassing summoning of Alice’s Niffin. Ultimately, his flailing fails, but he promises Eliot and Margo he’ll return after Alice’s funeral service back on Earth. Dead Alice in the not-so-flesh shows herself to Quintin at the wake, and leads him to her father’s study. Specifically to a spell book on how to free her soul. Quintin bumps into her father Daniel, who buys the story, and agrees to help enact the ritual.
Still knee-deep in their Reynard-vanquishing research, Julia uncovers a string of natural disasters 40 years ago she thinks could be linked to a banishing as big as would be needed to get rid of Reynard. She and Kady follows the dots back to Hoboken, NJ, to the site of a clearly magical fire. Scraping up some flakes of dried blood found on an old banishing circle, Julia enchants an atlas to locate the owner of said blood. Meanwhile, Kady is still in search of some uber-powerful demigod abortion magic to resolve the trauma of Julia’s pregnancy.
Back in Fillory, some Viking-esque muscle-y types arrive from the land of Loria to the north to bitch about how the state of the magical Well Spring has royally screwed their kingdom over. To make up for this, Prince S—why, Magicians, I thought we were above badly gendered jokes—ruler of Loria demands a 50/50 split of the Well Spring. Oh yeah. And the hand of the “virgin queen” Margo in marriage. That doesn’t go over too well. So Prince S. spirits their entire castle away to some remote part of Loria to hold as hostage until Margo and Eliot come around.
Daniel tries to enact the ritual to put Alice’s soul at rest, but it calls for a good dose of both bravery and honesty. Something which neither of her parents are particularly equipped with. Quintin is quickly losing hope.
What starts as a one-on-one meeting to coerce S quickly escalates into a full-hook up between him and Margo. Apparently, it’s enough to sway Margo into thinking, hey, maybe she could stand marrying this guy. It’s not like she’d be marrying someone she’s not sexually attracted to, after all. Speaking of Fen, she confesses to Eliot her past with the FU Fighter who attempted to assassinate him. Her heart’s in the right place, but it doesn’t go over well with Eliot.
Julia finds Dana, the woman who had banished Reynard 40 years ago, and demands her help. Julia learns that she, too, had been raped by Reynard, but she was unsuccessful in getting rid of her pregnancy. This all right before Dana leads her into her creepy gimp dungeon and bludgeons her over the head with a baseball bat. Dana’s planning on keeping Julia down there, safe and sound with her “Haxon-Paxon”, some sort magical creature able to block beings like Reynard from locating them. Just until Julia gives birth to Reynard’s child. Harnessing the power of this demigod childbirth is the only thing powerful enough, Dana says, to banish Reynard. Luckily, Kady swoops in to kick some ass and save the day, and together they make off with Dana’s Haxon-Paxon. By the time Dana realizes her little golem man is missing, it’s too late, and Reynard has already found her.
After “Apparating” around nearly every inch of Fillory and Loria, Penny finally thinks to look for Eliot, Margo, and Castle Whitespire in the one place no one else did—exactly where it disappeared. Turns out, the castle was never in Loria, just cloaked in an illusion spell. Tearing down his magical facade, Margo goes off on Prince S, and in her anger and betrayal declares war on Loria.
Alice’s mom, Stephanie, attempts to take over the soul-saving ritual where Daniel left off, but she’s just as shit at it. After some finagling, Quintin finally manages in squeezing some heartfelt truth out of Stephanie, but just as it appears to be working, Stephanie bolts. Leaving Quintin alone with Niffin Alice. Not so dead after all, and apparently stuck in Quintin’s tattoo, after his Cacodemon vacated it. So much for saving her soul.
So, we have our answer. Alice isn’t dead.
Not that she’s really alive either.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but something about Alice’s reappearance seems to ring false. She appears to Quintin looking as she did when she died, and ultimately leads him not only to her parent’s house, but specifically to the book containing spells to put a haunted soul to rest. Not only that, but we’re made to understand that she had requested this book from her father after the events of The Writing Room (01×09).
Remember George, the ghost boy, or any of the other disturbed souls which haunted the historical Plover house where the gang found the Fillory button? That’s okay, neither did I. But clearly Alice never forgot. She’d begun secretly scheming with the intent to someday free those children from repeating the loop of their ghoulish deaths within the Plover house.
Yet somehow, in attempting to enact this spell meant to put a spirit at ease, Quintin manages to summon a Niffin Alice. Why? Apparently, she’s been riding shotgun inside of Quintin’s Cacodemon tattoo this whole time, which would lead me to believe she never even needed to be summoned in the first place.
Was it all just a red herring? A chance to fuck with her parents from beyond the grave? Or is there still some small sliver of the real Alice remaining, trying to show Quintin the way? Why else lead Quintin on this wild goose chase, attempting to herd Alice’s parents into enacting this ritual? Which never even got completed, might I add.
Or… has Niffin Alice been summoned in order for Quinten to put her soul to rest? Maybe the only way Alice can find peace now is if Quinten destroys her Niffin…this time for good.
Whether we’re dealing with Niffin Alice, real Alice, or some strange amalgamation of the two, things are only going to get much more interesting for Quentin from here on out.
The question of what Julia is going to do about Reynard the Fox only continues to get more complicated. Armed now with the knowledge that harnessing the childbirth of the “demigod” fertilizing within her is the only way to end Reynard, will she do it? The choice to keep the child can’t come lightly. Beyond just the sacrifice of Julia’s freedom and her dignity, in choosing not to determinate the pregnancy, what are the consequences of giving birth to a demigod?
Dana hid away her demigod child not only from Reynard, but from herself. And yet, she made that very unnerving comment to Julia about her son being a “good man”, an “influential man”.
Is her son supposed to Lex Luthor or something? What does it really mean to give birth to a demigod?
Okay. But what the actual hell is with next week’s preview? A bank heist? A campy, comedic bank heist, complete with an Emperor Palpatine-esque super-villain? If past episodes of Magicians have taught me anything, it’s that what might initially seem like a writing room’s fever dream, usually turns out to be some form of magical dickery.
Ho-boy. Strap yourselves in, boys and girls.